The abundant wisteria in the neighbourhood looks much better to the eye than to the camera. No matter.

I had hoped to be able to solve a mystery for this post; why do Italians call wisteria glicine? To me, the Greek root for glycine is associated with sweetness, although the plant that springs to mind is Glycine max, the not-noticeably sweet soybean. Wikipedia enlightened me. Linnaeus used it in 1737, in reference to the sweet, pear-shaped tubers of what he called Glycine apios. That turns out to be my old friend Apios americana, sometimes known as Indian Potato, which my other old friend Rhizowen wants us all to call Hopniss.

Good to know.

English speakers call the flower wisteria because Thomas Nuttall named it for the Philadelphia physician Caspar Wistar. And Wisteria was previously classified as Glycine.

Mind you, I'm no closer to knowing why Italians call wisteria glicine. Maybe they're still using the old form; that would be understandable. It can't be something as simple as the sweet smell, can it?

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